What Do I See in Movies?

Muh. Syahrul Padli
5 min readFeb 7, 2024

(Muh. Syahrul Padli — Reflection Series)

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I am relatively lucky than others. I love movies, I am inspired by great movies, and I have had the opportunity to learn about movies from people who work in the industry.

I think, among my many mediocrities, among my countless uselessness in this life, there is still something I can be proud of: being able to enjoy movies both as an audience and as a technician in the background.

Based on my experience as an ordinary audience and as someone who has the background of a behind-the-scenes worker, I want to write about my understanding of movies.

Allow me to pretend to be a bit philosophical.

In my opinion, film, as a dynamic and exploratory art form, should not only provide visual entertainment, but also serve as a mirror of life.

How about it?

Are you already enchanted by my useless using high-flown language?

Wow, it sounds very meaningful. In fact, it’s just a point of view that I used, not the result of my personal systematic thinking.

Films are not that difficult to understand. They don’t need to be defined in such a way because films are what we capture with our eyes, ears, and feelings. We don’t need to define it into an abstract concept.

Although films can be seen with world-view called psychoanalysis and semiotics, films are still something similar to life. There is no definite formula for living it. But there is always a path that is at least useful for each person to reach their destination.

I will try to share two roadmaps: as a viewer and as a maker. Hopefully it will be useful — or at least be a bad example of something useless.

Film as a Mirror of Life: A Viewer’s Perspective

When we sit in a cinema or in front of a television screen, we go to a world created by the director and the film crew (the actors and actresses and all the elements that make the production and post-production successful)

We do not only watch the stories presented on the screen, but also feel the emotions expressed by the characters, enjoy the vibes, be amazed by the setting, and so on. We can be sad, angry, hate one character and the others.

Films become a window that opens our view to various aspects of everyday life from ordinary to epic adventures.

One of the strengths of film as a mirror of life lies in its ability to present diverse perspectives.

Through well-developed characters, the audience can feel and understand experiences that may be different from their own.

Films can invite us to empathize and explore more deeply the complexity of humans and relationships between humans. Not only that, but films are also able to reflect the values and social conflicts that are happening in society.

In some cases, films can even be a catalyst for change by raising important issues and highlighting injustice.For example, documentary films are often used as a tool to open people’s eyes to social problems such as inequality, climate change, or human rights abuses.

Filmmakers as Storytellers of Life

The director, screenwriter, cinematographer, and the entire production crews work together to create a work of art that reflects their vision and perspective of life.

It can also be just a link for other people who have different views to a wider market.

The filmmaking process is not just about technique and skill, but also a deep creative expression. Not all films are intended for such a thing. But at least a good film does.

The director, as the project leader, has a great responsibility in guiding the narrative and providing artistic direction.

Their decisions in choosing the point of view, visual style, and use of music play a are the key role in giving a unique identity to a film. Through this process, the director tries to convey the messages they want to convey about life and the world around us.

The screenwriter, with their expertise in translating visual and sensory imagination, then creates dialogue and develops characters, providing the foundation for the entire narrative. In filmmaking, the story is the core that binds all the elements together. How the story is told will affect how the audience will interpret it.

The cinematographer, through the use of camera, lighting, and visual composition, creates the atmosphere and aesthetics that support the theme of the film. The decision about whether the film will use bright colors or a dark tone also determines the emotional nuance that the audience will feel.

We as the audience don’t need to feel the complexity and risk. We just need to enjoy it the right way.

If you can’t go to the cinema or subscribe to a streaming app, at least enjoy illegal movies in the best and most focused way.

Synergy Between Audience and Filmmaker

For filmmakers, a film is definitely a final product, but for the audience, it is a new experience that can have an impact or not.

However, a well-made film will become an emotional bridge that connects the other side of us as human through the power of narrative and visuals.

As an audience, we bring our own life experiences to see a film. Unconsciously, we may absorb moments that make us laugh, cry, or reflect.

For some ordinary viewers, films can also be an escape way from reality or a window to reflect on their own lives for the time being.

Filmmakers, on the other hand, may have a secondary mission to inspire, raise awareness, or simply entertain, or even just make money to survive. That’s perfectly normal. What drives someone doesn’t always have to be noble and full of philosophical values. Audiences and filmmakers are also connected through economic value. There is always a balance point that can be win win solution for both of them.

Filmmakers have to make films that have economic value, at least to recoup their investment. Market mechanisms apply. Not all filmmakers have a strong character like Joko Anwar or are as adaptive as Ernest Prakasa. Not all audiences can be predicted in their tastes either.

Ultimately, the way we enjoy films is actually the way we also appreciate life. If not life in general, maybe the life of the filmmakers. Don’t watch illegal movies if you have the money! No matter how small our contribution to filmmakers is, it may not be as small as we think it is to them.

Takalar, 7 Februari 2024

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Muh. Syahrul Padli

A Science Teacher, Head of Penghayat Sumur Community and Digital-Creative worker. co-Founder YT Bawah Pohon Science (an alternative education platform).